Olive oil and olives: certainly healthy but pay attention to this

Olive oil

Olive oil and olives. Always healthy? We have been afraid of fats for years. Unjustified. Fats are the basis of both your hormone and energy balance. I am convinced that so many women are so tired because they do not eat enough healthy fats. Note the word healthy: this is very important. What is healthy when looking at olive oil and olives?

Olives and the different fatty acids

Fats consist of different fatty acids. For convenience, I always divide them into omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9. Fats never consist of 100% omega 3, 6 or 9 fatty acids, it is always a mix of these 3. If your tables If you see products classified in these 3 categories, they are classified in the category of which they contain the most fatty acids. Olives and olive oil fall into the omega 9 category. If you want to read more about fats, read my article: Five reasons for women to eat more healthy fats.

Olives contain healthy fats, but…..

Omega 9 fatty acids are the monounsaturated fatty acids. This falls into the category of healthy fats. Avocados and various nuts (almonds, macadamias and hazelnuts) also fall into this category. In addition, olives contain antioxidants, which reduce the effect of free radicals in your body, and they are also a source of easily absorbable calcium. Like all healthy fats, they can help you reduce your insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Olives and olive oil come in many flavors, because one olive is not the other. And therein lies the unhealthy pitfall.

Olives are picked unripe

The taste of olives can be very different. There are olives that I like, but there are also olives that I find downright disgusting. I always thought it was due to the type of olive, but when I delved into this a bit further, it turned out that it could also be something else.

Like bananas, olives are picked from the tree when they are still unripe. They are then green, hard and inedible. Bananas, however, ripen on their own if you give them the time and that goes fairly quickly.

But in many cases olives are heavily processed to make them edible faster, otherwise it can take up to 8 months.

Green olives are unripe olives

Most olives we see in the store are green, so unripe olives. Raw, unripe olives contain a fair amount of oleuropein; a substance to which many healthy properties are attributed: it is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect  (1).

However, the disadvantage of oleuropein is that it tastes very bitter, making the unripe olives inedible. In fact, they should mature for months, so that the bitter taste disappears and they turn darker on their own.

To speed up this process, the olives are leached in a bath of, for example, sodium hydroxide, better known as (caustic) soda (caustic = caustic). A substance that really does not make your body happy! This leaching also has a negative effect on the nutritional value of the olives.

As with all plant-based products: sun-ripened is so much better! How about black olives?

dark olives; matured or leached?

Dark olives are normally ripe, but therefore also fragile: they are soft and prone to spoilage. They are therefore mostly used for olive oil and not sold as black olives. But how is it possible that black olives are still for sale? These dark olives also appear to have been picked while they were still green.

By exposing them to iron gluconate, an oxidation process is started that colors the olives evenly black. You can tell this from the pit. If it’s green, your black olive has been ‘ripened’ using iron gluconate. Now, as far as we know, this is not bad for health, but I prefer an olive that is as unprocessed as possible.

Help! Where can I find really healthy olives?

Go Greek!

Yes, in Greece the use of lye with olives is prohibited.

Therefore, it is preferable to choose good quality black, Greek olives. These will be more expensive and you will therefore usually not find them in the supermarket but in delis. See if the packaging says anything about ‘100% sun-ripened’.

There are also green Greek olives. These were not leached, but were allowed to soak for months in a salt bath. This is also a good choice, because it is basically harmless. If you find them too salty, rinse them with preferably filtered water.olive oil

And what is a healthy olive oil?

Like most products in the supermarket, olive oil is also heavily processed. Making olive oil can involve many steps: bleaching, steaming, heating, dry cleaning, hydrogenating, deodorizing and more operations that you and I don’t even know what it is. In addition, a lot of olive oil is diluted with cheap soy and rapeseed oil. This oil really does nothing for your health.

Healthy olive oil is nothing more than the oil from a pressed olive. It therefore seems healthy to opt for extra virgin: first pressing. This is normally the best quality. Unfortunately, this term is not regulated and can be used when it is not. The ‘title’ extra virgin is protected, but it doesn’t say much because the question is whether the control takes place sufficiently.

Most extra virgin olive oil is not 100% extra virgin at all. Indeed, we are being fooled en masse.

The best choice: pure, cold-pressed extra virgin

Pure extra virgin olive oil is pressed in a natural, cold way and checked for purity, smell and taste. The only way to find pure, extra virgin oil is to avoid the big producers.

Look for companies that buy the olive oil directly from the olive farmer. A farmer who cold-presses it himself and therefore does not use heating and who preferably also puts it in bottles himself. Choose olive oil packed in a glass, preferably dark, bottle, not in plastic. A dark glass bottle protects the oil from oxidation.

The plasticizers from plastic bottles easily dissolve in the fat, which means that endocrine disruptors can end up in your olive oil.

By the way, extra virgin olive oil is suitable for heating and even heating (2) 

Your body deserves the very best. However?

You understand that this olive oil will always be more expensive than olive oil from a large factory, where you do not know what ended up in the bottle. Choose quality. Be critical and ask questions about where it comes from. Do not be fooled. Your body deserves the very best! Real!

My favorite olive oil? Organic, Greek, cold-pressed, delicious and inexpensive?     Click here for that. (Available in 250 ml, 500 ml and 750 ml.)


1  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9464466

2.  https://actascientific.com/ASNH/pdf/ASNH-02-0083.pdf


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